Daily News - Tuesday 16 September 2014

Posted 16 September 2014 8:26am

The black dog in country Australia

Australians living in rural regions are more likely to take their own lives as a collection of pressures push them to the brink.

... Remoteness is not the only challenge contributing to the inflated number of country suicides.

Penny Carlisle, who works for rural support program Community Mates, part of the Catholic Social Services CentaCare network and the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes said financial pressures, alcoholism and drug use also play a part in mental illnesses.

"It's about how life can be so tough out here, how much money is probably owed and isolation - alcohol and drug abuse is also a factor," she told AAP.

"Everyone says the drought's over. The drought's not over, the ripple-on effect from the drought is still continuing, the damage was done to their brains back then."


UK - What mental health services can learn from Sandwell’s integrated approach
Paul Burstow, The Guardian

It is good news that the chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, has turned the spotlight on mental health in her latest report. She is right to argue for a big drive on public mental health.

There is already some great practice out there. I would urge Davies to take a trip to Sandwell to find out how and why the area is doing so well on violence reduction and reducing levels of depression.

Earlier this month, I travelled to Sandwell and Dudley to find out for myself. The answer is not rocket science, it is all about relationships. Focusing on building relationships helps people to become more resilient and capable.

Sandwell’s approach to mental health and wellbeing is all about recognising and developing people’s relational assets and never turning people away.


UK - To treat mental illness as an economic issue is close to victim-blaming
Alex Andreou, The Guardian

A worthy desperation to shock policy-makers into action is clearly what motivates a mental health report published this week by the chief medical officer – and I seek to criticise neither the report’s recommendations nor its intentions, which are broadly positive.

I do, however, find the language and focus – and, by extension, the way it has been reported – problematic. “People with mental health problems should be given faster treatment to avoid taking time off work, says the England chief medical officer” was how the BBC’s morning news headlined the report on Tuesday.

Throughout the day other networks had a similar focus: the headlines almost invariably centre on cost. Viewers were informed repeatedly that mental illness was the top reason for people taking time off work; how much it costs the economy per year, per month, per day; how many “working days are lost to” depression.

One had to wait until the more in-depth analysis to hear any mention of the patients themselves, the misery mental illness causes, the impact on their families, the premature-mortality rates.


Cashless welfare card favoured to replace income management
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian

The cashless welfare card proposed by mining magnate Andrew Forrest is the favoured model to replace income management after next July.

Instead of being rolled out across the country, it will be targeted at people “at risk”, including long-term unemployed, jobless families and some young people.

Senior Coalition sources have confirmed that Labor’s place-based model of income management, which targets specific communities, could be expanded

Mr Forrest’s cashless welfare card is seen by senior government ministers as a better way to implement welfare quarantining than the expensive BasicsCard, which is run by the government. A senior source said while the Basics­Card was not “dead yet”, most senior officials believed income management should change after next July.


Forrest welfare solution 'a winner'
The West Australian

Indigenous man Ray Peters slumps against a hot tin wall at a Kununurra carpark, at the exact spot his granddaughter was stabbed to death a few months ago.

His legs point to the blackened blood stains where the young woman fell; the life punctured from her body by a knife to the chest.

Sometimes he sits under the commemorative flowers to remember the girl whose name may never be spoken, according to tribal law. Sometimes he drinks to forget.

"I am an alcoholic," the 67-year-old said matter-of-factly.


Stop blaming Aboriginal culture, just combat child abuse at every level
Ngiare Brown, The Australian ($)

Addressing the physical and sexual abuse of children is a complex matter that cannot be tackled adequately in a few short paragraphs; however, I cannot tolerate that the media and the public condemn all Aboriginal people as though we are absent, incompetent, weak and dysfunctional. Perhaps they are emboldened by a silence they perceive as permissiveness.

It is therefore past time that we reclaimed our voice and our power, and committed ourselves to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and of all children.


The Tyranny of Experts – Challenges & Achievements in First Nations Education
Jeff McMullen, The Stringer

Every child has a right to health and a good education. While this is a given, you say, clearly after more than two centuries the top-down, assimilationist policies inflicted by a long line of Australian Governments and technocrats have failed miserably to create even the opportunity for equity, let alone excellence, for so many of our poorest children. The Children of the Sunrise, First Nations children, are trapped by the poverty within our affluent nation and by the policies of Governments and vast bureaucracies that lack the essential knowledge to design or implement a successful education strategy.


Indigenous Australia’s rapid rise is shifting money and votes
Rolf Gerritsen and Andrew Taylor

A dramatic change has been underway in Australia for some decades – yet few people know about it, or understand its far-reaching impacts.

Quite simply, official measurements show the number of First Australians has skyrocketed to far outstrip growth in any other sub-section of the national population. From 1981 to 2011, the number of Indigenous Australians increased by around 185% .


Lock up your wives!
Rebecca Onion, Aeon

Advice columns from decades past provide a chilling glimpse into the horrors of marriage counselling before feminism

Marriage counselling, once the informal job of clergy, parents and trusted elders, became its own profession in the 1920s. Following increased advocacy for women’s rights, divorce rates in the US rose 15-fold between 1870 and 1920. Meanwhile, psychology and social work found their footing as professions. Some marriage advocates, unable to stem the tide of divorces through legal strictures, turned to counselling as the answer.


Employment solutions can be found close to home
Adrienne McGill, Eureka Street

The McClure review of Australia's welfare system is causing dread in the hearts of disability support recipients. With the final report due by October, we're terrified that all the talk of transitioning to work is simply code for not just a lower rate of payment – when the current rates are already too low – but a new, punitive regime that will require useless job searching.


New Website Aims to Find Jobs for People With Disability
Pro Bono News

A woman who knows exactly what it feels like to be denied a job because of her disability is now working to help other people with disability enter the workforce.

Disability advocate Felicity Waters has created Ambitious Talent, a website that aims to bring employers and disabled jobseekers together.

Waters claims the website is the first in Australia designed to promote individuals with a disability by showcasing their full profile and resume, including their disability.


Raising the spectre of long term joblessness
Matt Wade, Sydney Morning Herald

It doesn't get much attention. But Australia has a growing long-term unemployment problem that's costing us billions.

The number out of work for more than 12 months has swelled by about 40,000 over the past year and now make up nearly a quarter of the nation's jobless. As a proportion of the total labour force, long-term unemployment reached a 12-year high in May.


Welfare reform inquiry findings meet resistance from Labor and Greens
Bridie Jabour, The Guardian

A Senate inquiry into the social services bills, which introduce most of the government’s welfare reforms, has led to two dissenting reports being tabled.

The Liberal-dominated inquiry recommended the bills be passed with no amendments, but Labor recommended the removal of 11 proposals and the Greens’ report said both bills should be denied passage through the Senate. The Greens said a separate bill introducing elements of the government’s budget proposals should be created.

The Senate’s community affairs legislation committee recommended the bills be passed unamended on Friday, despite acknowledging a range of concerns raised in submissions.


One in five Australians living pay to pay

Almost one in five Australians are living pay to pay, a National Australia Bank survey shows.

While the vast majority (70.4 per cent) of those surveyed considered themselves good at managing money, almost one in five rarely or never have any money left at the end of a pay cycle.

People living in regional areas are more likely to be caught short than those living in capital cities, the survey found.


Renewing federalism: state budgets, VFI and a ‘hard budget’ constraint
John Freebairn, John Freebairn

State (and territory) budgets depend on grants from the Commonwealth for about half of their revenue. This dependence on funds from the Commonwealth is referred to as vertical fiscal imbalance (VFI). For good reasons, some level of VFI seems inevitable.

If state budgets face a hard budget constraint, it is meant that when a state increases (or decreases) a major expenditure program, say another $500 million on health or education, it raises (or reduces) the required revenue from an increase (or decrease) of its own taxes.

Conditions supporting a “hard budget” constraint, combined with VFI, result in accountability of state budgets and good allocations of limited resources between the private and public sectors.

Unfortunately, Australian federal-financial relations are far from meeting a “hard budget” constraint.


Renewing federalism: what are the solutions to Vertical Fiscal Imbalance?
Brian Galligan, The Conversation

The solutions to VFI are relatively straight forward. The Commonwealth retreats to its national purposes and leaves the states to manage their policy domains—in effect honouring the federal constitution. The Commonwealth uses section 96 tied grants sparingly for genuine purposes of assisting smaller states and for addressing genuine issues of national interest.

The states are given appropriate revenue capacity and made responsible for raising most of their own revenue. Subject to precise calculations being done, a first approximation might be giving the states the equivalent of half the $101 billion grant figure, including most of $46 billion tied grant component, as a proportionate share of income tax capacity.

A comparable federal country where provinces share income tax and have superior schools run by the provinces without any national department of education is Canada. Australia might follow suit with political leadership and better intergovernmental relations.


Hockey faces his Wayne Swan moment
Ian Verrender, The Drum

Wayne Swan had several moments where he watched all those budget revenue projections disappear into a black hole. Joe Hockey is about to experience just how that feels as commodity prices tumble, writes Ian Verrender.

Joe Hockey is facing his very own Wayne Swan moment.

It is the point in time when it suddenly dawns on a treasurer that all those revenue projections in that budget way back in May are disappearing into a deep and very dark hole.

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